avengement

After enduring a brutal seven years of imprisonment and learning of his mother’s death from cancer, “hardened, rusty nail” Cain Burgess (Scott Adkins) breaks out and seeks his vengeance against those responsible for his torments. At the top of his list is his loan shark brother Lincoln (Craig Fairbrass); but before arriving at the climactic confrontation, the viewer is treated to a series of nasty flashbacks to prison brawls, police beatings, and other fuming catalysts for Burgess’s hate. This British film is surprisingly violent and bloody and ought to satisfy those looking for something tough, dumb, and full of broken beer bottles and spite.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Avengement is:

5. Anti-police. Police and prison guards are mean, insensitive, corrupt, or resort to unnecessary brutality.

4. Reformist. Cain, despite having no prior criminal record, is thrown into prison with extremely violent convicts after botching a robbery. He emerges as a hardened killer, the film seeming to suggest that the criminal justice system only breeds more dangerous menaces.

3. Racially suspect. Lincoln’s black accountant, Stokes (Terence Maynard), is a family man, listens to classical music, and would be classic exemplar of Africanus cinematicus if not for also being described as a “crooked fucker”. The overwhelming majority of the rowdies Cain has to fight in prison are white, with only a couple being black, and no racial self-segregation into gangs seems to occur in this apparently postracial penal institution. An impersonal board of officials responsible for Cain spending longer behind bars, however, is multiracial, with a “fuckin’ ponce” of East Indian origin presiding. It must be said that the sight of a row of brown bureaucrats casually signing off on punitive extensions of the white protagonist’s sentence hardly presents the new, globalized Britain in the most positive light. A gangster (Nick Moran) also has this to say about Mexican justice: “In Mexico, you know what happens to people that behave like that? They string ’em up under a bridge, cut off their dick, and shove it down their mouths […] you know, they’re savages.” This statement is left unchallenged, but the general savagery displayed by Britons throughout the film may be intended to serve as an implied and relativistic rebuttal.

2. Anti-usury. Cain gets back at his loan shark brother by redistributing the money in his bank accounts to those he has victimized. Lest this idea of debt forgiveness be interpreted as somehow even vaguely skirting the edges of crypto-anti-Semitism, however, the screenplay makes sure to mention that one of those whose lives were ruined by the predatory loans is named Silverman.

1.Pro-family. Cain loves his mother and, living up to his name, goes after his brother only after being betrayed. Lincoln’s sin, meanwhile, is prioritizing his business interests over family ties. Never believe a bent copper over your own flesh and blood!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.